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Chapter 24. Yikes! Help! Emergency! > Written Plans - Pg. 221

Yikes! Help! Emergency! 221 A huge snowstorm up and down the East Coast is preventing 40 percent of your attendees from getting to your meeting. Many are calling to cancel altogether. What do you do? When faced with a crisis or a paper-cut situation, follow these suggestions: · First and foremost, don't panic. It serves no purpose. You must collect information, discuss options, and make fast decisions, and you can't do that very well if you are upset or let the situation get to you. Take a deep breath and know you'll get through it. · You cannot anticipate every scenario, but it is very important that you plan for the ones with the largest impact. Before your meeting, take the time with your staff, the facility, and local emer- gency personnel to think through the "what-ifs" and come up with crisis management methods. · Work with the facility, vendors, your staff, and all others who are involved. In any emergency, crisis, or bad situation, you must rely on the talents and experience of others. Get their feedback and let them help in areas in which they have expertise. Don't Drop the Ball Ask your staff not to guess or speculate on potential outcomes and to only state facts. Otherwise, rumors and misinformation spread, and it will make your task that much harder. The bottom line is to plan and prepare for the unexpected. As the lead planner, you will be expected not only to make decisions but to provide leadership. It's important to temper your emotions and provide clear and honest communication. As long as attendees know that solutions are forthcoming, they will be calmer and happier. Written Plans You can't remember every meeting detail, can you? You have to write things down, especially in- formation that must be communicated to others. Therefore, there's no way you can develop backup plans and not put them in writing. You, your staff, the facility's staff, and many others need direction, and the written backup plan is the place to start. When creating an emergency backup plan, one of the first things you should do is obtain a copy of the facility or hotel's emergency procedures. Review it and ask questions. It is important for you to understand how the facility implements its plan and who is responsible in various categories. Food for Thought